SANDY BERGER: We Are Living in an Amazing Age of Technology, But Best Is Coming
The first electronic hand-held calculator was delivered in 1967. For those who were used to pencil and paper and slide rules, it was an amazing device.
In the following 40 years, technology has moved extremely quickly, giving us personal computers, digital cameras, digital music players, ATM machines, the Internet, digital video recorders and GPS navigation devices.
While all of these are dazzling developments, I believe that we have just entered a new era in technological development. I call this chapter of technological advancement the "Amazing Age" because the new technologies that are appearing make you stop in your tracks and say "WOW! That's Amazing!!"
The iPhone is such a device. It is like having a telephone, digital music player, video player, Internet radio and a computer in your pocket. Last year's model was good, but this year's is amazing because you can wirelessly download applications to the iPhone that make it even more useful. And some of those applications are truly amazing in their own right.
For example, there is an application called Shazam. This little software tidbit will help you identify any song that you hear, whether it's playing on the radio, in a store, in a movie or on television.
When you hear the song, just press the "Tag Now" button in Shazam on your iPhone. Then put your iPhone anywhere where it can hear the music. In less than a minute your phone shows you the name of the artist, track name, album cover and other pertinent information. It's sure to make you say, "Wow!"
While Shazam can't be 100 percent accurate, it searches more than 4 million tracks, so it does an excellent job -- a truly amazing application.
Now that you can identify any music quickly and easily, how about getting the answer to any question by simply making a telephone call? Another amazing service called ChaCha will get the answer for you. You just call toll-free (800) 2ChaCha (800-224-2242) from your mobile phone to ask any question.
If you like to do texting from your mobile phone, you can also text your question to 242242. Whether you call or text, within minutes you get a text message to your cell phone with the answer. Because this service returns the answer as text on your cell phone, you must pose your question on a cell phone.
Like Shazam, ChaCha is amazingly accurate. You can ask any question you like and get an immediate response.
Pandora is another amazing application. It is available on an iPhone, but it is also available online at www.pandora.com.
At Pandora, you create your own radio stations based on songs and/or artists that you like. Pandora uses information from its music genome project to analyze the songs you like and to present you with similar music that you will probably like. You say "yea" or "nay" to each song. As its program learns your likes and dislikes, you hear both new and old music that you like.
If the iPhone, Shazam, ChaCha and Pandora don't amaze you, take a look at some of the new digital cameras that have just hit the market. Many have "smile detection" that takes the picture only when the subject smiles. Some have blink protection. So if someone in the photo blinks in the first shot, the snapping of the picture is automatically repeated without any input from the photographer.
Or look at the new Amazon Kindle electronic book reader that is the size of a paperback book. Not only can you download a book to the Kindle in less than two minutes, but you can also do it while traveling in a car on the highway going 70 mph. (Hopefully, you are a passenger rather than the driver.) The Kindle also lets you surf the Web, get an instant definition of any word, and get immediate Internet information about any person, idea, company or place that you read about.
One wonderful, and not-to-be-missed fact, about this Amazing Age of Technology is that many of its astonishing services and applications are free. Shazam for the iPhone, ChaCha, and Pandora are all free services. While you have to pay for the Kindle and for the books you download, the Kindle's connection for the service and the Internet connection are free.
We are lucky to be a part of this Amazing Age of Technology. These great new services and devices can be used to enhance everyone's daily lives. Many of them can be enjoyed right now with only a computer and/or a cell phone. Be sure to keep abreast of what is happening, because the best is yet to come -- and you may be amazed at how fast it's coming.
Sandy Berger welcomes your questions and comments on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compukiss.com/happycomputing.
More like this story